Prior to this study is a study on the PURPOSE OF REVELATION. Because of an infiltration of improper teachings, I fear many may be having problems understanding this fact of Revelation and how to approach a study of this Book. So, we are going to go back a little and look at prophecy as a whole, then see how this applies to Revelation.

I don’t believe that anyone has problems with the fact that Revelation is a prophecy, but the fact that the modern term used for Revelation is “end day prophecy” has people thrown off on how to study the book. Contemporary beliefs of prophecies place the purpose of Revelation on foretelling future events. Through all prophecies in the Bible, even those specifically for the Jews, there is always a foretelling of events, but this is not the purpose of prophecy.

The book of Revelation should be approached in the same manner as prophecies in the Old Testament. The main difference is that Old Testament prophecies were specific for the people of God under the old covenant and the actions they were currently doing at the time of the prophecy; and Revelation is specific for the people of God under the current covenant and the actions which God foreknew they would fall into from the time which the apostles would retire to their grave to the time which the Messiah would return. We will look at the Biblical fact of this point in a minute, but Revelation is relative to the 1st century and the 21st century, and ALL era’s of time between. This is Biblical within the very book of Revelation. There is further understanding in the video “When did the end days start?”

When trying to read the books of the prophets, they are some of the hardest books to understand. If you just getting started in studying the Bible, I would encourage you to stay away from the books of prophecy. If you feel you're ready to dive into prophecy, I want to show you some simple truths and guidelines about studying prophecy.

There are difficulties in reading Old Testament prophecies. We have gruesome text in prophecy:

‘As a shepherd saves from the lion’s mouth only two leg bones or a piece of an ear, so will the Israelites be saved, those who sit in Samaria on the edge of their beds and in Damascus on their couches.’” (Amos 3:12)

Hum, OK...
Then we have downright insulting texts?

This is a picture in Jeremiah 2 is just downright insulting. How God speaks to His people in this way, but it got the point across.

“How can you say, ‘I am not defiled; I have not run after the Baals’? See how you behaved in the valley; consider what you have done. You are a swift she-camel running here and there, a wild donkey accustomed to the desert, sniffing the wind in her craving—in her heat who can restrain her? Any males that pursue her need not tire themselves; at mating time they will find her.” ( Jeremiah 2:23-24)

There are prophecies of judgments

“Then the Lord said to me: “Even if Moses and Samuel were to stand before me, my heart would not go out to this people. Send them away from my presence! Let them go! And if they ask you, ‘Where shall we go?’ tell them, ‘This is what the Lord says: “ ‘Those destined for death, to death; those for the sword, to the sword; those for starvation, to starvation; those for captivity, to captivity.’” ( Jeremiah 15:1-2)

Besides many other texts in Scripture, prophecies will completely destroy the modern theology of God. We can not put God in a nice neat little box. We must look at who He is and what His characteristics are based on certain subjects.

These texts show a good reason why it’s so difficult to read prophecy. We don’t have any modern genre of text to compare prophecy too.

When reading the prophecies, we don’t hear much about the prophets themselves. Typically, the narratives tell us about the prophets and the prophets tell us what they said; but they don’t give us much background.
So, let’s look at the general guidelines for reading prophecy:
As our examples, in the Old Testament, prophets enforce and meditate the current covenant of God which the people are in. Their message is unoriginal. The prophecies are not about foretelling future events. The prophets are about correcting current mispractices and life practices by using Scripture already provided. They then give a warning of what will be IF the issue is not corrected.

The prophets’ message is confrontational. They confront people in their sin and God’s love for them. This is why I have problems with most self-proclaimed prophets today - today, it’s always about love with no correction and that is not how we see God working through His prophets.

By in large, prophecies are to the people of God and not to the world. The world may be caught up in the events of prophecy but it’s directed towards those who follow God. That makes sense because prophecies are warnings and the world could care less about a warning of a God they either don’t worship or don’t believe exists. We need to understand this key point when looking at Revelation. The world could care less about a warning from YHWH, and quite honestly, if it were a warning to the world, then why would we even care also. Revelation is, the same as Old Testament prophecies, a prophecy to the people of God, pertaining to the people of God, a correction for and warning for the people of God.

While the Old Testament prophecies focused on Israel, which was the people of God during that time and under that covenant, Revelation focuses on all the world who claim to follow the Living God, who are the people of God in this time and under this covenant.

The Old Testament prophecies are about 99% complete and that of the New Testament is knocking on the door of the same percentage. Often, when we go to prophesy, we try to relate it to events that are either happening or are going to happen but less than 1% has not happened.

A practical process for reading prophecy... Observe their home: What do I see? In letters we look at entire paragraphs, in poetry, we look at full segments, we look at full stories or discourses in other genres of text. In prophecies, we look at full oracles. What I mean is, we have this tendency to pull out verses from these different genre’s of text and read them like we read Proverbs. We must keep the information within the context of the oracle given. God often gives several oracles to one individual, and these oracles are of the same subject but given in different forms to show a three-dimensional view of what God is showing. Look at the full oracle, then try to compare it to other oracles - finding the parallel meanings in the symbolism.

When we look at Old Testament prophecies, we see there are different forms of prophecies. Revelation does not differ from this. After all, the source is the same.

One form is the Lawsuit. The full lawsuit contains a summons, a charge, and a verdict. If we look at Isaiah 3, we see the full lawsuit in chapter 13 and the beginning of chapter 14. We see the indictment at the end of chapter 14 all the way through chapter 16. Then we see the judgment sentence from chapter 17 through chapter 26.

We see many lawsuits in Revelation. The churches alone are seven lawsuits. There are lawsuits all through various portions of Revelation.

Another common form of prophecy, which is well known in Revelation, are the woes. Woe prophecies contain three elements: the announcement or distress, the reason for the distress, and a prediction of doom. In the Old Testament, we see a woe in Habakkuk 2:6-8. You find woe prophecies in chapters 9 and 11 of Revelation.

There’s the promise prophecy which is a salvation oracle. This prophecy has three parts: Reference to the future, a mention of a radical change, and a promise of blessing. We see this in Amos 9:11-15 and also in Revelation of those who are faithful to the Laws of God and their faith in Messiah Yeshua.

Then we have the enactment prophecy. We have these prophecies in the Old Testament but none, that I’m aware, in the New Testament. It’s where God accompanies His Word with a symbolic action that He had his prophets do. An example of this is in Isaiah 20:3-4, when God instructed poor Isaiah to go out in his underwear, at least periodically, for three years just to be an illustration of what was going to happen in this picture. It may not be fun to be a prophet but so many desire that title today.

Then we have the infamous messengers speech that begins with “thus says the Lord...”.

Everything within Revelation shows the characteristic of the forms of prophecy. Yet still, one problem people have is the bombardment of teaching that this is about the end. That takes Revelation completely out of the character of what prophecies are for and actually rips it from the context of passages that surround the entire book. Revelation 1:3 and Revelation 22:7 holds a promise of blessing to ANYONE who reads, understands, and does according to the writings in the book. That sandwich throws the book of Revelation right back into the context of what a prophecy is about - a warning to those who claim to serve God but are acting like a woman who is unfaithful to her husband.

In understanding prophecies, once we’ve observed their home and found out what is being said, we need to then understand their home and find out what it means. We think in oracles and there are three basic points in prophetic oracles. First - you have broken the covenant; repent! In the Old Testament, we see a call for repentance from idolatry (Jeremiah 10:5); and we see a call in Revelation - “come out of her my people”. We see a call for repentance from a lack of social justice (Micah 6:7-8); which we see in Revelation and the prophecies of the end given by Y’shua in Matthew 25. There’s a call to repent in religious ritualism when the people are living unacceptable to God (Isaiah 1:11-13). This is the whole focus of Revelation.

The second basic point in prophetic oracles is a judgment if we don’t repent. Revelation is packed full of this point. And the third basic point is a hope beyond judgment for future restoration if we do repent. We see this through the great book of Revelation also.

We often get hooked on trying to figure out WHO the players are and lose track of what God is trying to show us. As with the woman in Revelation 17, there are several different guesses and theories of exactly who this woman is. But we need to look at the purpose of the oracle. Understanding that prophecies are about God’s people, in the New Testament, we need to understand that Revelation 17 is about an adulterous people, proclaiming to serve God but are murderous, and covetous. Thus, instead of looking at specifics, for each oracle, write down, in one or two sentences the answer to the overall question, “What is the meaning of this oracle”.

I believe, if you understand these points and are able to relate to Revelation as a prophecy in the same manner as we relate all prophecy; and you are able to understand and practice these principles of studying prophecy and apply it to Revelation, you will understand the importance of, and why, this book has a promise for all generations, and cultures, who read, understand, and practice that which is written within its pages. And the beauty of this book will open up in a manner that it never has before, and your eyes will be open to the warning, the condition of the times, the amount of prophecy that is fulfilled, and how close to the end we actually are.

God Bless